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Tribute to the volunteers

Not festive cheer all round

Sir, – For many Forces families, this Christmas will be extra special.

Last month saw the end of British combat operations in Afghanistan. 140,000 UK troops have served there and the final few are currently on their way home.

It’s a time for celebration but also a time to remember those who lost their lives and those who will continue to need support as a result of their service in that conflict.

At SSAFA we’re already responding to those needs through a range of services designed to support the injured and their families, those who are suffering with loneliness or isolation and those who have been bereaved.

But we know from past experience that this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Issues relating to active service can lie dormant for many years, sometimes because of people’s resilience, pride, or simply not knowing where to turn for help.

Over 7000 of those we are helping saw active service in Northern Ireland, the Falklands, Bosnia and Iraq.

So while we welcome home the final few troops, I would urge everyone to remember the work that remains to be done supporting serving personnel, veterans and their families here in the UK.

You can show your support by posting a personal salute to them at www.ssafa.org.uk/mysalute or text ‘HERO29 £3’ to 70070 to help continue SSAFA’s vital work with the entire military community. – Yours etc.,

Air Vice-Marshal David Murray CVO OBE,

Chief Executive, SSAFA,

London, EC3R 8AD

Tribute to the volunteers

Sir, – On behalf of Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, may I take this opportunity to send sincere thanks to all of the many volunteers and supporters in West Lothian who have contributed to the work of our charity in 2014.

Chest, heart and stroke illness can affect anyone. Thanks to advances in treatment, and changes in lifestyle, many more people survive heart attacks and strokes than ever before –it’s a real success story.

However, this means that many more people and their families are living with the long-term impact of these conditions.

Right now, one in every 10 people in Scotland is living with chest, heart or stroke illness.

CHSS is the only charity providing services throughout Scotland for people affected by chest, heart and stroke illness.

During 2014 we were able to help more than 18,000 people through our advice line and patient information, support groups, financial grants, and our wide range of local services, which we provide in communities throughout West Lothian.

None of this would be possible without the contribution of our volunteers.

Their work is absolutely vital in our local support services, charity shops and other activities.

We very much appreciate the commitment, enthusiasm and care they bring to the charity and to their local community.

With continuing grateful thanks and best wishes for 2015. – Yours etc.,

David H Clark,

Chief Executive,

Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland,

Rosebery House,

9 Haymarket Terrace,

Edinburgh.

Don’t suffer in silence

Sir, – For those most severely affected by the disabling condition Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Christmas – and the countdown to it – can be incredibly difficult.

The new report from leading UK charity Action for M.E. details the stark reality for thousands of people living with the most severe form of M.E. – and asks what can be done to improve things.

Visit www.actionforme.org.uk/mylifestopped – Yours etc.,

Sonya Chowdhury,

Chief Executive,

Action for M.E.,

42 Temple Street,

Keynsham BS31 1EH.

Get the support that you need

Sir, – Carers UK has found that over two million of us will start providing care for loved ones every year.

And many of these people will provide that care without vital advice and information.

With an ageing population and people living longer with disabilities, caring for a loved one is increasingly a reality for more and more people.

In fact 10.6 million people across the UK will take on a caring role over the next five years and £1.1 billion of carer’s allowance goes unclaimed each year.

It’s vital anyone caring for a loved one seeks advice to ensure they are getting the support they are entitled to.

Without help and assistance, carers can find themselves facing financial hardship, health problems, emotional stress and relationship breakdown.

With new rights in the Care Act coming into effect, carers need to be informed about how it will impact them. So Carers UK has launched a new Carers Rights Guide.

It is available at www.carersuk.org and contains important information on how to get support, including details on upcoming changes to carers’ rights.

We’re also ready to answer questions via our advice line.

Readers can call our operators on 0808 808 7777, between 10am and 4pm Monday to Friday, or email advice@carersuk.org with specific queries. – Yours etc.,

Heléna Herklots,

Chief Executive,

Carers UK.